The shortstop position is full of intrigue this year. There are very few sure things on this list, so how much you are willing to invest will depend on your risk tolerance. Unlike other positions, some of the safer investments will come from the middle of the list but there really are not very many.
For the first time this year we have some controversy at the top. There was no consensus number one like there was at the other positions. Considering that Trout, Kershaw and Kimbrel are likely to be consensus number ones on the last three rankings lists, SS will almost surely be the only position with such controversy in 2014.
If you are interested in reading analysis about some of the risky SS options near the top of the draft, click here. If you want to read more about the general reliability of the men at the position (or lack thereof) click here.
Before we get into the ranks, however, we need to go over a couple of assumptions that we made in determining eligibility.
In order to be eligible, a player needs to meet 1 of the following criteria:
A) 10 appearances at the position in 2013
B) The expectation that the player will be used primarily at a given position in 2014 (example: Miguel Cabrera will appear on our 1B list)
These rankings will focus on 2014, and are geared toward traditional 5 x 5 formats. Without further ado, here are the assembly’s rankings:
1. Troy Tulowitzki, COL-
Jeff: Always elite when on the field, but just because he hasn’t played 140+ games since 2011 does not mean that there is a 0% chance of him getting there. That upside (strange to say for a 29-year-old) keeps him in the top spot for me.
Jim: The top dog and a four category stud, but health issues always a concern.
2. Hanley Ramirez, LAD-
Jim: Hanley is on a walk year and just called Jerry McGwire to yell “SHOW ME THE MONEY”!
Tommy: He was the second most productive regular in all of fantasy baseball on a per-game basis last year. There is no safe pick at this position, so I will take the guy with the highest ceiling.
3. Ian Desmond, WAS-
Paul: A drop from 20/20 .280 to 17/17 .270 is all it would take to become SS #5. Contact issues make AVG risky.
Peter: Back-to-back 20/20 seasons with a 0.280+ average, 70+ runs/RBIs, climbing my ranks.
4. Jean Segura, MIL-
Kevin: Beware the second-half decline, but overall I think he’ll take a step forward. The issue will be cost in 2014: if someone wants to pay full price for his 2013 first half stats, it may be safer to pass.
Peter: Factor in a return of Ryan Braun in the Brewer lineup in 2014, and Segura could approach the 90-100 runs scored plateau.
5. Jose Reyes, TOR-
Kevin: I still worry about the effect of the turf on his legs, and the ankle injury means you can’t bank on 30+ SB. But the speed upside is certainly there, to go with double-digit HR and a nice BA.
Tommy: Not much difference between ranks 3 and 5 on this list. Reyes is on the wrong side of 30 and he is not running as much as he used to. He is still a valuable asset, but no longer elite.
6. Elvis Andrus, TEX-
Jeff: a long time favorite of mine. Great smile. Bad facial hair. Runs and RBI should spike with the bolstered offense. Still some upside here as he will only be turning 26 this August, but I will take the current production all day long.
Peter: He has scored to the tune of 86.4 runs per year (with 91 runs scored in 2013), speed as well.
7. Xander Bogaerts, BOS-
Jim: Expect a .280 BA with around 15 homers. There’s big upside here but the 21-year-old is no Mike Trout so don’t expect big things out of the gate.
Tommy: Bogaerts will likely be an elite fantasy option in the future, but there may be some growing pains. He should contribute somewhere between 15 and 20 HRs but the BA will be dependant on whether or not Bogaerts can make better contact.
8. Everth Cabrera, SD-
Paul: Nobody doubts the speed, but his BA is in question and I question anyone suspended for PED’s.
Tommy: Upside is Segura like, but his high K rate is alarming for a guy with such little power. His contact rates were improving immediately before his suspension started. If he continues down that path he could be an elite SS.
9. J.J. Hardy, BAL-
Kevin: It’s hard to turn down 25 HR at an MI position. He’s not a sexy choice but gets the job done.
Peter: Has hit 22+ homers for 3 straight seasons, driven in 68+ runs and scored 66+ runs (25 homers, 76 RBI and 66 runs scored in 2013).
10. Jed Lowrie, OAK-
Jim: Jed could be a top 12 option, but I’d like to see him do it again before I move him up anymore.
Kevin: I put him #8 overall, and he could go a bit higher if he stays healthy. But like most SS, his track record of health isn’t strong.
11. Starlin Castro, CHC-
Jim: If he looks good in spring training he could be a top 10 SS, but if things look the same move him down some. He’s a risk/reward player.
Paul: Betting on a small bounce back. 10 HR, 15 SB with .265 seems easily within reach of this talented SS.
12. Ben Zobrist, TB-
Jeff: It has been a steady decline for Zobrist, but he is still incredibly useful. His HR/FB should bounce back closer to 2011-12 levels of about 12%, which should get his HR total into the high teens. That said, I would bet the under on 11 stolen bases.
Kevin: I don’t love Zobrist (see our 2B rankings), but SS has more uncertainty, so his power and speed potential keeps him viable for deep redraft leagues.
13. Andrelton Simmons, ATL-
Jim: He’s all glove and his value is tied to his BA, and if that sinks it takes his fantasy value with it.
Paul: Moderate power/speed combo. Contact rates make me believe .280 more likely than .248.
14. Alexei Ramirez, CHW-
Jeff: Consistently underrated, could see a bump in runs and RBI if Davidson, Eaton, and Abreu pan out.
Tommy: The power decline is really troubling for a player who never walks. His fantasy value rests on his ability to either repeat a career season in SBs or regain the lost power. I am not betting on either.
15. Brad Miller, SEA-
Paul: Might end up with better counting stats than Castro. Higher floor, lower ceiling makes him less attractive.
Peter: He showed a little bit of power (8 HR in 76 games) and 5 steals means he could approach 20/10 levels. A low-end option at this point.
16. Jimmy Rollins, PHI-
Jeff: Was still successful stealing bases last season (22 of 28), but it’s not clear why he decided to run less. Runs were down 37 from 2012, but I’d expect that to tick up a bit ‘14. HRs took a hit due to a 25’ decrease in average fly ball distance.
Peter: He will steal 20+ bases, pop double-digit homeruns, drive in 50-60 runs, and score 80 runs.
17. Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE-
Jeff: With better health in 2014, about 25 HR+SB with above average runs, RBI and batting average is pretty bankable for Cabrera. In other words, he is still valuable, especially if others are down on him. 2011 looks like an outlier though.
Jim: 2011 was too hot and 2013 was too cold, but his numbers in 2012 were just right. His 2012 line is what you should be bidding on.
18. Jurickson Profar, TEX-
Kevin: I hope full playing time helps him figure out his game. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had more growing pains though.
Paul: Kid is going to be a special 2B. Slightly added value at SS for 2014.
19. Johnny Peralta, STL-
Kevin: I don’t like Peralta, but the Cardinals have a way of getting value out of players. Bear in mind the red flags: career high LD% and BABIP in 2013, dropping contact, and of course the PED suspension.
Tommy: A solid bat in a great line-up. You could do worse, but the upside here is very limited.
20. Derek Jeter, NYY-
Jim: If he’s healthy he can still hit for average and score runs, but at age 40 I’m not drafting nostalgia.
Paul: Obviously there are health concerns, but when he’s in there he’ll contribute.
21. Erick Aybar, LAA-
Jeff: Otherwise known as E-Rick or Electronic Rick, I like Aybar as a sleeper in 2014. I see him bouncing back to his 2012 production as only injury held him back last season.
Kevin: Has only hit above .280 in two years. Had leg issues that killed SB totals in 2013. Lots of grounders won’t change. This isn’t a profile that remains profitable for long after turning 30.
22. Jonathan Villar, HOU-
Paul: Potential steal at the end of the draft. Contact issues limit his ceiling.
Peter: I have Villar climbing in the ranks for next season. The 22-year old may have struggled to hit (0.243 average) but when he got on base, he stole 18 bases in 58 games (you can do the math, but that translates to some elite speed potential).
23. Zach Cozart, CIN-
Jim: Maybe his new manager will breathe some life into Cozart, but I’m betting on him being shoved to the bottom of the order.
Tommy: Cozart was unable to produce much from the 2 spot in the Reds’ line-up, so I hate to think what might happen if he gets dropped.
24. Stephen Drew, FA-
Peter: Still needs to sign somewhere.
Tommy: It is hard to rank Drew without knowing where he will play. He is an injury risk capable of putting together some useful numbers if everything goes right.
Check out the rest of our 2014 rankings.